abuse | emotional wellness

Finding the Strength to Heal from Abuse

By on February 24, 2021

I have been thinking about vulnerability. I’m coming up on the 3 year anniversary of this blog. My intent has been to share a slice of life and finding joy in the motherhood journey.

Lately, I have been lacking inspiration and direction. Today I realized the reason. I’ve touched on my story a few times here and there, but I haven’t really shared the nitty-gritty. The nitty-gritty of how to leave a lifetime of abuse behind and create a positive life of love and healing. This growth is what has created the space to be able to fully experience “joyful motherhood”.

In the past, I have shared the “end result” rather than the baby-steps it took to get to this place of healing. My work now is to share the how-to. This is the vulnerable piece for me. The information came to me in several forms all at once. It was like I hit a place in life and the universe said here, it’s your time. Go do it. Go break the cycle.

I started taking steps– I found the personal development avenues I required to start changing my thoughts, I found someone who was willing to support me and empower me through the change. It was not (and is not) always easy. Luckily, I’m strong willed or determined and my support system knows how get me to activate the right muscles to get it done, lol. I am also dedicated to use my story and my success to help others who need and want it.

Trauma Cycles

The truth is, I have only been free of abuse for 6 years. Abuse is so clouding, I didn’t even recognize I was *still* living in an abusive situation in adulthood because it felt better than my childhood. Denial at its best. I was the master of thinking “if I do this, then our situation will change”. I failed to recognize I needed to love myself enough to completely remove myself from abuse and never turn back. The saying is true, “we repeat what we don’t repair”. This is unfortunate as a mother, because we have the luxury of passing it on to our children.

Abuse leaves nasty scars. It took about 3 years after removing myself from abuse to feel calm and grounded in my new reality. Abuse affects us physically, mentally and spiritually. It damages our self-image, our self-worth, our ability to have healthy relationships, our ability to trust life, trust people, to be fully present and on and on. It causes us to suffer from anxiety, depression, trauma responses, etc. etc.

This is the piece I feel is so truly unfair, and the piece I am passionate about. The scars DO NOT have to dictate our outcome or our level of success (meaning happiness). Life does not have to be a struggle. Yes, we will be faced with struggles. However, overall healing is possible and we can stop the cycles of abuse if we truly want it.

The Mind is a Tool

I had two thoughts I held on to throughout my childhood. #1 was that I was going through this to help others and #2 I deserved more and would have a healthy family as an adult. I had a very clear image of what my “normal” family would look like. Little did I know, that the power of focus on these two thoughts would be my saving grace.

I survived sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty, living in extreme drug addiction, and many other labels. I have survived PTSD, disassociation, and have learned to live fully in my body so that I can truly enjoy life.

The details of how to leave, how to pay for it, and how to live beyond survival unfolded. I have been able to keep my son relatively sane and I feel there has been massive healing for him too, so that hopefully he doesn’t have to carry the scars into adulthood.

I’m saddened every day when I think about abuse statistics and the reality of the drug situation in our country. I felt alone when I was young, and now recognize that a huge percentage of the world falls into these statistics. All forms of abuse damages our psyche and creates the baggage that we carry.

Over the next phase of this blog, I will start sharing the ways I learned to manage my mind, pull from my inner strength, love myself, and change my story. If you or someone you know has suffered abuse in any form, please invite them to this page so they can receive this information.

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breastfeeding

Hey, Momma! Don’t Forget To Care For Yourself!

By on February 16, 2021
Guest Article By Leslie Campos, wellparents.com

If you are a first-time, breastfeeding mom, congratulations! Nursing your baby is an intimate experience that you will never forget. But one thing you may forget is that you have to take care of yourself, too, if you want to be the very best mom and caregiver for your little one. Without further ado, here are some tips on how to do that during the first precious months (or years) of your breastfeeding journey.

Read — a lot.

If your bundle has yet to make their debut, get to work by reading. Your study sessions should include online blogs, like Integrated Mama, as well as books on pregnancy and motherhood. Look for information and helpful tips on things pertinent to your life. This might be bringing a new baby home when you have dogs in the house or caring for a child when you have a disability. There is no such thing as too much knowledge, as long as it comes from a reputable source.

Pack well before your due date. 

There are few things more stressful to a pre-parent than getting close to your due date without a hospital bag packed. Trust that the sooner you are ready to head out the door, the better. You want to make sure you have everything from a delivery gown to your baby’s car seat. For your hospital clothing, make sure you have garments that are cozy, comfortable, and familiar and can be easily used to breastfeed. You’ll also want to pack snacks for you and your partner, lip balm to address dry and cracked lips, and all the paperwork needed by the hospital or birthing center.

Address breastfeeding issues early on.

Once the baby arrives, you should have access to a lactation nurse that can show you the ropes. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and find a lactation consultant to address issues early. Breastfeeding problems can range from low supply to your infant being tongue-tied, so having an expert on call from the beginning will save you from an immeasurable amount of worry and heartache.

Sleep when you can.

Newborn babies sleep a lot — but they wake up a lot, too. If possible, sleep when your baby sleeps, but also ask for help from your partner, close friends, or family so that you get at least a few long stretches of shuteye. Do yourself a favor and learn how to swaddle before you leave the hospital. Swaddling will help suppress the jerking movements from your baby’s startle reflex, which can wake them prematurely from a sound sleep.

Enjoy a warm bath every night. 

A warm bath does wonders for the soul, but the moist heat also increases your milk supply. Further, a 30-minute dip in the tub can soothe tired muscles and, as the Inner Splendor blog explains, even lower your blood pressure. A special note here: If you do have high blood pressure, consult with your child’s pediatrician about whether or not your current medications may pass onto your breast milk.

There are many self-care acts that you can do for yourself when you’re breastfeeding. Obviously, you need to eat well and exercise, but being your best is more than that. These are just a few tips that can help you be good to yourself and your baby. This is an exciting time and one that you will never forget, so treat yourself well and enjoy every moment.

Integrated Mama is a treasure trove of inspiration and wellness tips for first-time and experienced moms alike. Like the Facebook page to stay abreast of information on pregnancy, nursing, and motherhood. 

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recipes

Probiotic-Rich Instant Pot Yogurt

By on January 8, 2021

Recently, my friend shared with me that she made yogurt from our favorite probiotic capsules. I have tried Instant-Pot yogurt a few times with yogurt cultures/starters and various milks. I haven’t had a successful batch until this recipe.

My friend shared her Instant Pot yogurt method with me, and I made a few adaptations just to make sure the probiotics would survive/thrive. I am blogging it now to share with you (and to have it for my future use). It is a 2 ingredient, very little hands-on effort recipe.

My kids eat yogurt every morning and we purchase 2 tubs per week. That adds up quite quickly. I love knowing the exact ingredients, that I’m reducing plastic consumption, and saving some money. The other thing that is a super bonus for me is knowing the probiotic strains I’m eating. I love Young Living’s Life 9 probiotic, and knowing it has multiplied and thrived in the yogurt means this is a super probiotic-rich gut boost!

One of my pet-peeves is a long blog prior to a recipe, lol. So, without further ado—

Instant Pot Yogurt Recipe

Ingredients/Equipment

Instant Pot (I used 6 quart)

Large jar for storage

6 Life 9 Probiotic capsules (or yogurt cultures, although I haven’t had the same success with other methods of culturing)

Tea towel

1/2 Gallon Organic Valley Whole Milk (2% works well too)

  1. Start with a clean Instant Pot, free of residue.
  2. Pour milk into the Instant Pot, close and lock the lid. Select Yogurt setting, then adjust pressure setting to boil. When the boil setting is complete, it will click back to yogurt.
  3. Carefully remove Instant Pot lid, being careful not to drop any condensation that has accumulated on the lid into the milk. I remove it carefully with the tea towel, catching any condensation.
  4. Check temperature of milk, making sure it has reached 180 degrees. Carefully, remove inner pot and sit in an ice water bath to chill the milk to 80-110 degrees. I did this in my sink.
  5. Set aside 1 cup of cooled milk. In a medium bowl, empty probiotic capsules, add cool milk and whisk until combined.
  6. Gently pour probiotic mixture back into milk pot and stir to combine. 
  7. Return insert into the Instant Pot. Select yogurt setting and set time to 24 hours.
  8. The next day, open the lid, stir and transfer to storage container.
  9. Will keep 2 weeks in the fridge.

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nutrition

Supporting Immunity in the Kitchen

By on December 1, 2020

The seasons are changing again and the cold/flu/and pandemic season is raging. When the seasons change, I like to do all the things to keep our immune system strong. Today I am going to share how we support our immunity in the kitchen.

Filling our diet with nourishing foods is one way we support our immune system. There is so much value to eating whole foods and choosing nutrient-dense items. They support gut health and immune function with necessary vitamins and minerals.

Immune Supporting Vitamins in Food

  1. Vitamin A is the #1 protection against viruses. Not just COVID-19. Foods that are vitamin A rich are egg yolks sourced from pastured hens and grass-fed butter.
  2. Vitamin D and Vitamin A work hand in hand to support immunity. Ways to receive Vitamin D nutritionally is through fatty fishes, red meats, and egg yolks. Another easy way to receive Vitamin D is to opt outside as much as possible to receive Vitamin D from the sun. Avoid sunscreens so that you are able to absorb the vitamin. 10-20 min twice a day is an adequate amount of time. The thing about vitamin D is that we do not store it or have reserves, so it is necessary to receive it each day.
  3. Vitamin C is used to prevent and address viral infections. Vitamin C has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce the severity and symptoms of colds. I always make sure to have an absorbable form of Vitamin C on hand, but a wonderful food to add to your diet is sauerkraut or other fermented veggies. Sauerkraut has 10 times more Vitamin C than fresh cabbage. Fermented veggies are also great for the gut microbiome. Increasing your green vegetables are essential. They provide Vitamin C, as well as B-vitamins, Vitamin K, and other important nutrients.
  4. Healthy Fats— Coconut oil is our best natural source of these healthy fats. Also, the lungs can not work without saturated fats, so grass-fed butter, avocado oil, olive oil, and ghee are great sources of healthy saturated fats. Just make sure to avoid all industrial fats and oils.
  5. Hydration— Staying hydrated keeps the pipes flushed, so to speak. Water is wonderful, adding an ionized mineral supplement is ideal and you can receive additional minerals in your kitchen by making herbal infusions.
  6. Bone Broth–is another one of my favorite ways to receive nourishment. Roasted bones leftover from a previous meal or picked up from your favorite butcher. I make sure to use grass-fed or pasture-raised meats. I often make it in my Instant Pot. However, I have been loving making this on the slow cooker function– I use the same proportions, just slow cook for 24 hours instead.

Sugar & Immune Support

With the holidays we start “sugar season”. It all starts with Halloween, then it seems to go until January. Sugar feeds inflammation and the “bad guys”, so being mindful of sugar consumption is a simple way to support immune function.

There are many healthier alternatives that we use in our kitchen. These sugar alternatives also prevent sugar highs and lows and the insanity that comes with sugared-up kids, lol. I use coconut sugar, monkfruit sweetener, and sometimes Swerve for baking. Maple syrup and honey are also natural alternatives.

Immunity Begins in the Belly

Since about 70% of our immune system begins in the gut, it only makes sense to start supporting it in the kitchen. Being mindful of what you are eating and drinking goes a long way in addition to the other germ-fighting techniques we have! Having essential vitamins, minerals, and a healthy gut aids in fighting illness and improving recovery.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: Leading By Example: How Parents Can Encourage Kids to Make Healthy Choices

By on November 5, 2020

Today, we are joined by guest blogger Emily Graham, you can find more of her wisdom over at Mighty Moms.

Parents of healthy children tend to have several habits in common. They don’t make negative comments about others’ bodies, they don’t moralize about food (i.e. they don’t associate abstaining from some foods with “being good,” or indulge in other foods because they want to “be bad”), and, perhaps most importantly, they stock their kitchens with healthy foods instead of shaming their children for making unhealthy choices. 

Ultimately, it’s up to parents to be good role models when it comes to diet. Accentuating the positive and avoiding value judgments are important modeling behaviors. Integrated Mama wants your family to be happy and healthy, so read on for more practices that can encourage kids to make healthy choices:

Dine as a Family

Eating together as a family is one of the best ways to model good dietary habits. According to a study in Pediatrics, kids from families that eat meals together at least three times a week are 20 percent less likely to choose unhealthy foods. Additionally, letting your kids see you making healthy food choices at mealtime also helps reduce the likelihood that they’ll become obese or develop eating disorders later in life. 

Mealtime can also be an important anchor in your child’s life. It sets a rhythm to the day and adds structure to life. The predictability of the routine reinforces discipline and provides security, a much-needed piece of the puzzle for healthy families—especially kids.

Dealing with Anxiety

It’s easy to forget that children are under considerable pressure to do well in school, fit in socially, and make their parents happy. That can produce elevated levels of anxiety, which can be harmful and, in some cases, require some form of psychological or medical intervention. 

Prolonged pressure can result in low self-esteem, depression, sleep deprivation, an elevated risk of mental illness and even suicide. Always talk with a doctor about how best to deal with the problem, and ask about dietary adjustments that can help. It’s possible that magnesium, vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, omega-3 or another nutritional element is lacking. 

Turn Off the Screens

Americans of all ages spend a lot of time staring at televisions, computers, and smartphones. Dinner is one time when the screens should be put away. Meals are a time for the whole family to be present and communicating rather than instant messaging, texting, or surfing the internet. However, parents must be willing to turn off their own handheld devices at mealtime so they can eat mindfully and encourage their kids to do likewise. 

Being attentive at dinnertime encourages family conversation and creates a shared experience that’s emotionally nourishing. Kids who aren’t focusing on social media during dinner see their parents eating vegetables and nutritional foods, and that leaves a lasting, positive impression.

When kids are allowed screen time, make sure it’s both appropriate and enjoyable. Ensure their online safety through parental controls, and choose games that sneak in educational and developmental components. Lastly, make sure their experience is seamless by selecting an internet service that provides the power and speed games require.   

Other Positive Behaviors

Children are highly impressionable and likely to duplicate behaviors their parents model. If they see you drinking three pots of coffee a day, smoking cigarettes, or indulging in drugs or alcohol, chances are they’ll grow up doing likewise. Even if you’re not in the habit of exercising regularly, making an effort to stay active with your kids can encourage them to exercise as well. 

Be Diplomatic About Junk Food/Fast Food

Live Science recommends that parents avoid the outright banning of cookies, cupcakes, candy, and fast foods. A more effective approach is to minimize the number of unhealthy treats so kids are less likely to be tempted by them. If snack choices at home tend to be things like fruit, nuts, and yogurt, children will become accustomed to healthy snacking. 

Parental behavior is enormously influential. Kids who are used to seeing parents eating balanced, nutritional meals and favoring healthy snack foods are apt to do likewise. Make a habit of sitting down to meals together and avoid exhibiting negative, unhealthy activities. 

Look to Integrated Mama for more insights, information and ideas to help your family thrive.

Image courtesy of Pexels

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